Quote of the week – make it easier

Here’s how you could have made it easier on yourselves.

Matt Smith

A couple of years ago I took a class in improvisational theater from Matt Smith. If you are looking for a way to push yourself out of your comfort zone I highly recommend improv., particularly since in our case we did two public performances at the end of the class. If you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend Matt’s classes – the man is a genius.

(If you have a fear of public speaking, improv. might not cure you of that fear, but at least it will demonstrate that there is something worse than getting up on stage with a speech already prepared. Getting up on stage with nothing prepared is in a whole different category of scary).

In 60 hours of class time over 4 weeks, Matt never once told us that we were doing something wrong. Instead he used the quote above – “here’s how you could have made it easier on yourselves” (there’s a whole series of blog posts waiting to be written about what a great way of giving feedback that phrase is).

I was reminded of Matt’s words when I read this list of techniques for robust software (the author is given as Nick P – I would love to be able to attribute this more precisely, if anyone knows who Nick P is, please post in the comments).

It’s a good list of techniques that have been known for many years (and yet I see many teams failing to implement them), but what struck me is how many of the techniques come down to “making it easier on yourselves”. It’s well worth reading the entire list, but here are a few highlights:

  • #2 “they used boring constructs that were easy to analyse”
  • #3 “each module must fit in your head”, “control graph that’s pretty predictable”
  • #6 “adopt languages that make robust development easier”
  • #11 “brilliant tooling that could reliably find race conditions, deadlocks, or livelocks”

Software development is hard, we need to take every opportunity to make it easier on ourselves.

(You should also check out Matt’s TEDx talk on The Failure Bow – a concept that came up over and over again in our class and would improve many workplace cultures).

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